Background: The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has infected over 127 million people worldwide, with almost 2.8 million deaths at the time of writing. Since no lactating individuals were included in initial trials of vaccine safety and efficacy, research on SARS-CoV-2 vaccination in lactating women and the potential transmission of passive immunity to the infant through mother's milk is needed to guide patients, clinicians, and policy makers on whether to recommend immunization during the worldwide effort to curb the spread of this virus.
Research aims: (1) To determine whether SARS-CoV-2 specific immunoglobins are found in human milk after vaccination, and (2) to characterize the time course and types of immunoglobulins present.
Methods: A longitudinal cohort study of lactating women (N = 7) who planned to receive both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna SARS-CoV-2 vaccine between December 2020 and January 2021 provided milk samples. These were collected pre-vaccination and at 11 additional timepoints, with the last sample at 14 days after the second dose of vaccine. Samples were analyzed for levels of SARS-CoV-2 specific immunoglobulins A and G (IgA and IgG).
Results: We observed significantly elevated levels of SARS-CoV-2 specific IgG and IgA antibodies in human milk beginning approximately 7 days after the initial vaccine dose, with an IgG-dominant response.
Conclusions: Maternal vaccination results in SARS-CoV-2 specific immunoglobulins in human milk that may be protective for infants.
Keywords: COVID-19 vaccines; SARS-CoV-2; breastfeeding; human milk; lactation; maternally-acquired immunity; vaccination.